September 24, 2012

SLM Mixtape #27: Somnuri



I Didn't Know - Tristesse Contemporaine
Yatton - Beak>
Shit-Hawk in the Snow - Moonface
Black Tounge - Feist
Other People - Beach House
Into the Night - Raveonettes
Sweatshop - De Staat
Born To - Jesca Hoop

September 18, 2012

Tuff Fest II: Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate


Fitzcarraldo is an impossibly large movie.  It is up there, and maybe surpasses, well known classic epics like Ben Hur, Cleopatra, or the Ten Commandments.  Part of me doesn't want to spoil seeing one of the most unbelievable things ever dedicated to film, but that one thing happens to be the main selling point of the movie.  So, I urge you to simply do everything you can possibly do to get your hands on this movie, suffer through the relatively slow first hour or so, and marvel at the last half.  It is one of the greatest feats in cinema's long and complex history.  That said, minor spoilers follow, but it really is a movie that you have to truly see to believe, so spoilers don't really enter into it.

Fitzcarraldo is a tale inspired by true events (though, exaggerated for cinematic purposes) of a failing European entrepreneur's last ditch attempt at greatness.  I feel like after every sentence that follows, I'm going to want to say "seriously," but I'll abstain.  In Fitzcarraldo, our titular protagonist, after failing to market ice to Peruvians, sets out to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon.  His funding for such a task will come from the money he plans on making from selling rubber he'll acquire from a nearly inaccessible rubber-tree-trove, also deep in the middle of the Amazon.  He plans on bypassing the rapids that make the trove inaccessible by sailing a 320 ton steamship up a parallel river, and, somehow, getting it over a mountain between the river it's on and the river he wants to be.  Seriously.

There are maybe 30-50 other absolutely bat-shit-crazy things that occur before he gets the steamship to the point where he plans on transporting the ship from one river to another.  This is a "throw your hands up and scream because this movie couldn't possibly exist" kind of movie.  Months after, I am still in a state of awe when I think of it.  There is one documentary about it, and several other biographic pieces talk at length about the filming of the movie, and how it almost ended in several people's deaths.

The most shocking thing about this movie is the fact that everything that you see on your screen actually occurred.  There were no special effects.  There were no cranes assisting in the the impossible feats.  It's as raw and terrible as it looks, and, if the documentaries are to be believed, it's probably worse.

There is no movie the equal of Fitzcarraldo.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.



September 11, 2012

Tuff Fest II: District 13: Ultimatum (2009)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate


Last week I talked about how silly The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was.  It does not compare to the silliness in the District 13 series.  This should come as no surprise for those familiar with the work of Luc Besson (writer producer) and EuropaCorp (studio), whose names appear on such great pieces such as The Transporter series, the Taxi series, and Kiss of the Dragon. 

These are not the kinds of movies that you get into for aspects like "deep emotional involvement," or "meaningful social commentary."  Let's be honest here: we love these movies because we love explosions, chase scenes, and watching people beat each other up.  The District series delivers on all these honorable areas, this second installment ramping things up well past ridiculous.

District 13: Ultimatum has the distinct honor of being a sequel to the first ever Parkour-centered action flick.  Where D13 fell short was that they focused too much on their silly story and limited the amount of actual parkour seen on screen, I guess not realizing why we put the movie on in the first place.  D13:U does not have this problem.  D13:U mostly consists of our two protagonists, Le├»to (David Belle, founder of parkour) and Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli), jumping off of things, climbing things, and punching folks.  What story they allow in is just there to push our fellas into higher and higher stakes situations, ending with a crescendo of silliness you just have to see to believe.

D13:U has a certain self-aware charm about it that keeps it afloat in the sea of ludicrousness, making it a blast to watch, even if it's about as deep and meaningful as a can of baked beans.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.


September 10, 2012

SLM Mixtape #26: Haut House




Hologram Grip - Obfusc
Fritz Lang - Chapelier Fou
Colomb - Nicolas Jaar
Break Yr Heartt - oOoOO
2.01 - Fabulous Diamonds
Lake Speed - Labradford
Goddess Eyes II - Julia Holter
Don't Understand (Feat. Jeppe Kjellberg) - Tomas Barfod

September 4, 2012

Tuff Fest II: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate


Ahh yes, we finally get to the quintessential Spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  The most famous and revered of the Dollars trilogy, and for good reason: This movie is epic. 

There were a few things that took me by surprise in watching this movie, but none more than it's running time.  Clocking in at 177 minutes, this movie long, and it feels like it.  These three men basically do everything that could be done in America in the early 1860's.  They ride around the desert, they sleep with women, they get in gun fights with strangers, they spend and steal money, they attempt to reconcile with their individual pasts, and they even fight in a battle during the Civil war itself.

That last bit is important. See Leone has said a great deal about TGTBTU, and some of that has been in relation to how he used the movie to pay homage and act as a parody to classic westerns.  Because of this, everything is just a little bit off, and kind of silly.  Sure, the fact that it is a Spaghetti Western doesn't help, but there's definitely some intentional silliness in there.  In no other scene is this more obvious than the scene where "Blondie" (Eastwood) and Tuco (Wallach) sign up with the Union army in an attempt to get across a contested bridge.

Westerns are all, to at least some degree, about the Civil War, and it's effect on Americans.  During this scene, the ridiculousness of war is brought to the forefront, the two sides of the war holding their positions just so the other side won't go someplace else to fight, each side "taking one for the team" by ensuring that the other side doesn't have more support.  This is ludicrous, obviously, because the real emotions behind their stalemate are closer to that of cowardice than that of heroism, but that's the point.  No one wants to be there, yet there they are, and a stalemate is a better prospect than getting shot any day of the week.

This is one small aspect of this terrifically large movie.  The movie is not, however, great.  It drags, there's little sense of pacing, whole sections of the movie could have been cut and no one would have noticed.  But you just have to see it.  There are so many shining moments in it that, despite it's faults, if you don't see it, you're denying yourself a great experience.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.


September 3, 2012

SLM Mixtape #25: For All It's Worth



Underhelped - Elsiane
Wonder - Soap & Skin
No Tear - Perfume Genius
Mary - Spiritualized
swollen eyes - Maica Mia
Silent From Above - Mirrorring
We Bow - Islet
Ethio Song - Amen Dunes